Aerlex Law Group and Aerlex Tax Services were pleased to be sponsors of the 15th annual Living Legends of Aviation awards ceremony, held January 19th in Beverly Hills, California, which recognizes and celebrates accomplished aviators and aviation industry leaders.
Six new members were inducted into Living Legends, joining an elite assembly of 100 individuals whose notable achievements have driven aviation forward over the years. In addition, a group of outstanding contributors to the aviation community were honored with special awards.
Actor, pilot and Living Legend John Travolta, often called the “Official Ambassador of Aviation,” continued his tradition of hosting the black-tie dinner and ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and welcomed guests to a glittering event where honors were bestowed and the audience was delighted by tales of the recipients’ careers and adventures in aviation.
The newest Living Legend inductees were: Mark Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA); Austrian skydiver and daredevil Felix Baumgartner, best known for his 2012 24-mile leap to earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere; Danny Clisham, famed airshow announcer and airline and test pilot; Dr. Ulf Dietrich Merbold, the first European Space Agency astronaut to go into space; Bruno Gantenbrink, a world champion glider pilot; and businessman and pilot Henry Ross Perot, Jr., first person to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter.
Two of the awards that are given out each year at the Legends ceremony were renamed this year in honor of past recipients. Going forward, the Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year Award will carry the name of Eren Ozman, owner and president of Sierra Nevada Corporation, and the Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award now bears the name of Kenn Ricci, founder of Directional Aviation Capital and owner of various aviation enterprises including Flight Options, Flexjet and Sentient Jet. This year’s special awards went to:
- Jason Miller and Tyson Weihs, co-founders of ForeFlight, a flight planning application, co-recipients of the Eren Ozman Aviation Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
- David Joyce, General Electric Vice Chairman and President and CEO of GE Aviation, winner of the Lifetime Aviation Industry Leader Award for his longtime guidance and leadership at the company.
- Mike Silva, decorated Vietnam veteran, career helicopter pilot and broadcaster, received the Vertical Flight Hall of Fame Award, presented by aerobatic helicopter pilot and Living Legend Chuck Aaron.
- General Jack Dailey, retired United States Marine Corps four-star general and director of the National Air and Space Museum since 2000, received the Steven Udvar-Hazy award from its namesake and Living Legend, the CEO of Air Lease Corporation and former chairman and CEO of International Lease Finance Corporation.
- Robert Bigelow, founder and President of Bigelow Aerospace, a company seeking to build the first commercial space station, received the Kenn Ricci Lifetime Aviation Entrepreneur Award from its namesake.
- Frank Franke, was presented with the Legends Wings of Help Award for his contributions as founder and President of “Aviation Without Borders,” a United Kingdom charity that provides evacuation, medical attention and other humanitarian aid through more than 20 missions annually.
- Actor, pilot and aviation activist Harrison Ford presented his Aviation Legacy Award to United States Senator Jim Inhofe, an avid pilot and the only senator to circumnavigate the globe. Inhofe, who represents the State of Oklahoma in the Senate, is an enthusiastic advocate for general aviation causes in Congress.
The evening also included a “Flown West” video tribute to the life and achievements of astronaut and Living Legend Eugene Cernan, who died in January 2017.
The annual Living Legends of Aviation ceremony has become one of the most prestigious and exclusive events in the world of aviation. Famous figures from both Hollywood and the aviation industry fill the Beverly Hilton ballroom and make the Legends a star-studded event. The event raises money to support the work of the nonprofit Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, an educational program that seeks to inspire children to become the pilots of tomorrow.